Relationship capital in the cloud: Envisioning the new coworker relationship 

By Evan Bleier
The Brief
As more workplaces move to cloud-based computing and collaboration, face-to-face interactions, long the bedrock of coworker relationships, are fading away. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
By 2020, most businesses, regardless of size, industry or location, will have joined cloud-based networks, according to a report from Cloud Magazine. It’s already fairly common for employees to work together on projects without any in-person contact. At first blush this might seem problematic; taking away the proverbial water cooler would seem to make it more difficult for coworkers to form the kinds of bonds that are essential to productive collaboration. And if that’s the case, cloud computing would be anathema to anyone trying to foster intra-organizational creativity.

In fact, though, the opposite may be true: Cloud-based projects may actually encourage creative team solutions. Think about it this way. The seemingly endless space available for work and data storage provided by the cloud means it can host more minds and prototypes per project: fifty ideas can be stored, shared and improved upon by all, freed from an assortment of logistical worries. “The ability to set up a collaborative environment within literally seconds is an extraordinarily powerful tool as opposed to having to coordinate everybody’s calendar and waiting two weeks before we can all put our heads together [in the same room],” Google vice president Vint Cerf told the Gallup Business Journal.

“Cloud-based projects may actually encourage creative team solutions.”   tweet this

Further, some evidence suggests that working remotely increases productivity. A 2012 ?Gallup survey? of about 14,000 full-time employees found that those who work outside of the office put in more hours than on-site colleagues and were more engaged as well (32 percent vs. 28).

Stats like that may not matter much in the long run: Millennials prefer communicating via email, text and instant messaging, and they will continue to insist on remote and flexible work hours anyway. By 2020—the same year Cloud Magazine tabbed as its cloud-computing usage threshold—over 50 percent of the workforce will be millennials. 

And what does that mean? Well for starters, managers and execs who want to attract the brightest young minds will need to learn how to foster healthy organizational networks that don’t rely on constant face-to-face contact

“By 2020—the same year Cloud Magazine tabbed as its cloud-computing usage threshold—over 50 percent of the workforce will be millennials.”   ?tweet this?

The Takeaway: No one is saying the cloud is a replacement for all in-person interaction. But it is an inevitable part of the new marketplace, and companies will need to take advantage of the efficiencies it can bring to large, collaborative projects.

RelSci is a technology solutions company that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

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